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…Health Minister warns
…only 10.6% of the population totally vaccinated
By Svetlana Marshall
As he championed the cause for Guyanese to be vaccinated, Health Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony on Thursday warned that for every 100 person infected with the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) two persons will die if the necessary preventative steps are not taken.
“COVID 19 is a serious disease, as our case fatality is at 2.3%, or put another way, for every 100 persons infected with the virus, two would lose their lives,” the Health Minister warned as he addressed the National Assembly on Thursday.
Since Guyana recorded its first imported case of the Coronavirus Disease on March 11, 2020, the country has recorded 18,088 confirmed cases, however, 15,898 persons have since recovered. Unfortunately 419 persons have lost their lives to the dreaded disease. Currently, the country has 1,770 active cases, of which 84 persons are hospitalised.
The Health Minister told the House that notwithstanding the diligence of the country’s healthcare workers, Guyana will not be able to exit the pandemic unless its population is fully immunised.
“The safest way of doing so is using vaccines. There is no doubt that vaccines work. Evidence of the power of vaccines can be seen in several countries that have had effective mass vaccination programmes, such as in Israel, the United Kingdom, the United States, where there has been a sharp reduction in hospitalisationand deaths. These real-life population data is a testimony of the effectiveness of the vaccination programme,” Dr. Anthony told the House.
As of Wednesday, June 9, 2021, 297,490 doses of COVID-19 related vaccine were administered, resulting in 81,729 persons being fully vaccinated. According to the Health Minister, this represents 10.6% of the total population, or 16.8% of the country’s adult population.
“As we know, older persons and those with comorbidities are at higher risk of the more severe forms of the infection. As of yesterday, 72.5 % of persons 60 years and older have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. In terms of the elderly population, this represents one of the highest rates of the first dose for the elderly population anywhere in the world. We are hopeful that soon all these persons would return for their second dose and, thereby, be fully vaccinated,” Dr. Anthony said.
However, he said there is much more ground to be covered. The Health Minister explained that in the 40 to 59 age group, 41.2%, of those persons have been vaccinated while only 38% in 18 to 39 age range has been vaccinated.
“We need to encourage more young people to get vaccinated, especially in the latter age group. Since we have seen a higher percentage of confirmed cases within this age group, approximately 9,760 persons. We have seen more hospitalization, and deaths within this age category. I will therefore urge the younger population to get vaccinated,” the Health Minister explained.
It was pointed out that while Region 6 has a 51.9% coverage and Region 1, a 51 % coverage, the coverage in Regions 8 and 10 are significantly lower. According to him, only 28.3 percent of Region 8 adult population has been vaccinated and 13% of Region 10’s population.
In Regions 5,4,3,7,9, and 2 the vaccination coverage for the adult population is more than 40%.
Guyana, the Health Minister said, is well on its way to securing enough vaccines to cover its entire adult population in 2021, and it is hoped that everyone would be vaccinated.
“We have utilized several options to ensure an adequate supply; this includes bilateral donations from countries such as Barbados, India and China, and through multilateral arrangement such as COVAX. We have also concluded several purchase agreements with suppliers such as the African Union, the United Arab Emirates and with SinoPharm in China. We already received 465,890 doses through these varied arrangements, with a similar amount already secured, most of which is expected to arrive in Guyana during this month,” he detailed.
While thanking both Government and Opposition Representative for supporting the vaccination campaign, the Health Minister said it is time to change vaccine hesitancy to vaccine enthusiasm by encouraging every eligible person to take the vaccine.